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Data reservations

Online government services are proving popular but more must be done to reassure the public about data security. That is according to a survey by the auditors Deloitte and polling company YouGov.

The survey, of 5180 UK adults, found that 88 per cent of people are open to accessing services online and 78pc of people have used an existing service. One three in a hundred, 3pc, said they prefer to access services exclusively off-line.

Near six in ten, 59pc said they would like to pay fines, bills and taxes online, and four in ten – 39pc of people do, suggesting there is demand for more online options. Near half, 46pc said they want to book appointments online, with 20pc currently doing so. However, the public have reservations about the security of online services. 17 per cent of people say they avoid using online services because they do not want to share data online. Among those who say they prefer exclusively off-line access, 42 per cent said data sharing was the main barrier.

Just 18 per cent of respondents said that sharing their data across government would lead to improved government services and 20 per cent said that taxpayers’ money would be saved. However, 33 per cent said they believe their data would be misused.

Three-quarters, 75 per cent of people say strong data security is the most important feature of online government services, ahead of being simple to use (70 per cent), saving time (68 per cent) and saving money (66 per cent). Only one in ten, 9 per cent of respondents said they have confidence in government’s ability to deliver IT projects on time and 6 per cent believe they can be delivered on budget.

Support and instructions for using online services is in demand. Some 42pc of respondents said that clearer instructions would encourage them to use more digital services and 18pc wanted telephone helplines available to support them.

Joel Bellman, public sector director at Deloitte, said: “People want government services that are safe, simple, affordable and able to save them time and money. This research shows that there is clear appetite to engage with government online, but a lot of work to do to ensure digital services are accessible and trusted. To truly realise its ‘digital by default’ goal, government needs to build trust and offer online services, with support available, that are so well-designed that people opt to use them instead of off-line alternatives. Online services should be intuitive and should bring government closer to people so they make a deliberate choice to adopt them.

“There are significant levels of concerns over government’s ability to keep citizen data safe and deliver IT projects successfully. More must be done to assure the public that government can keep data secure, will not misuse it and is capable of digital delivery. As it stands, trust in government is a major barrier to the adoption of online services.”

About the survey

YouGov surveyed 5180 people across the UK between October 7 and 15 October 2013 about their experiences of online government services. Visit http://www.deloitte.com


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